Disability employment gets a boost in region says disability champion Realise Futures

10 August 2018

Suffolk and Essex social enterprise Realise Futures says a Government announcement last week for extra funding to support disabled people with the greatest barriers to work is good news for the region.

The Ipswich-based company, which specialises in a range of training and employment services for people with disabilities and/or disadvantages, says the move has secured the future of its own workforce, and it will also enable it to support more disabled people looking to work in future.

For two years from April 2019, supported businesses like Realise Futures will receive increased funding of £5,000 a year from the Government's Access to Work scheme for each person in a Work Choice protected place.  

The extra funding - announced by the Department for Work and Pensions on Wednesday - has secured the future of thousands of jobs for disabled employees around the country.

Realise Futures currently supports 56 people on protected placements working in its RF Works division -  https://www.realisefutures.org/our-enterprises - consisting of six social businesses in Suffolk, ranging from horticulture, food and catering, fulfilment and eco outdoor furniture. 

Jenny Brick, Realise Futures' Business Development Director, said:  "It's excellent news and a huge relief for our current employees on protected placements,  the staff who support them and the organisation as a whole.”

"It is also great news in recognising the unique contribution that supported businesses make in offering employment to disabled people, and the fact that the model has been recognised and committed to by policy makers going forwards.”

"The work we have undertaken as a member of the Supported Business Steering group to lobby the Department for Work and Pensions for the continuation of this funding has put Realise Futures firmly on the radar with the Department of Work and

Pensions at a national level, and I am incredibly proud of the work that the team has done to get to this point."

She added: "Our social mission is to help and support those furthest from the workforce to progress and achieve. Although there is still a lot of work to be done going forwards to clarify all the details, this is good news for disability employment."

Disabled employees working for supported businesses can benefit from job coaches, additional HR support, adapted working practices and extra supervision.

In this week's announcement, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey, said: "Supported businesses can provide employment opportunities for those disabled people who want to work but may otherwise find it difficult to secure a suitable role. That’s why we’re increasing the funding for each person working in a supported business, ensuring that disabled people who want to work have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits that work can bring."

Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Sarah Newton, said: "We’re committed to ensuring that disabled people have the necessary support to thrive in the workplace. The increased payment will not only be available for existing employees but also for businesses to employ more disabled people, enabling a total of over 2,000 disabled people across England, Scotland and Wales to access support."